With Halloween Upon Us, Hunters and Anglers Fight a Nightmare Scenario on the Water Against Aquatic Hitchhikers

Among the quacks, chuckles and honks was a message in conventional English that caught my attention: stop aquatic hitchhikers.

The theme is not new. For decades we’ve been aware of the huge toll exacted by aquatic invasive species on Wisconsin’s ecology and economy. Programs to help stop the spread of AIS have been a prominent part of fishing and boating outreach for the last 20 years.

But I rarely see a “stop invasives” campaign in a hunting setting.  The good folks at the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Department of Natural Resources combined forces to present AIS information at the waterfowl calling championships using the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers materials.

A couple hundred miles to the east, the state of Pennsylvania is dealing with a similar challenge.  Pennsylvania Sea Grant intends to remind anglers that their boats and trailers provide the fastest way to transport undesired species among the state’s waterways.

“I think a lot of fishermen already generally know that,” she said, “but they might not be aware that they may be personally contributing to it, or know how to prevent spreading these things around.”

Scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Fish and Boat Commission and other organizations report that the greatest threat to Pennsylvania waterways isn’t necessarily industrial or biological pollution — it’s the spread of invasive and non-native species.  Click on the following two links below to access the full story to see how the actions of individual anglers and hunters matter.

“We haven’t done a lot to target waterfowl hunters,” Steckart said. “But anyone who uses waterways should know the steps they can take to prevent spread of unwanted and harmful species.”

Sometimes the introduction is unintentional, like when zebra mussels were pumped from the bilges of sea-faring ships into the Great Lakes.  And other times the introduction is an intentional act of ignorance, like when anglers emptied minnow buckets into Conneaut Lake, Lake Wilhem and other Pennsylvania waters.



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